On Thursday night, CLNS Media Patriots beat reporter Evan Lazar and 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Alex Barth ran through their second NFL mock draft of the offseason on the Patriots Beat podcast using Pro Football Focus’ Mock Draft Simulator.
They purposely played this one conservatively, with the main goal being to stay at pick #15. If you’re looking for a more aggressive draft where the Patriots go get a top tier quarterback, you can see last week’s PFF Mock Draft 1.0.
This weeks mock draft started off with a splash, as the Jaguars took BYU quarterback Zach Wilson over Trevor Lawrence. Lawrence ended up going to the Jets at #2, and Justin Fields went to the 49ers at #3. There were no trades into the top seven to take a quarterback, and the Panthers took North Dakota State quarterback Trey Lance at pick 8.
Heisman finalist Mac Jones fell all the way to the Patriots at 15, but they skipped taking due to the unlikelihood of this happening.
ROUND 1 – PICK 15
What is likely however, is that both Stephon Gilmore and JC Jackson aren’t on the Patriots roster come the 2022 NFL season. Here we have a great opportunity for the Patriots to take a cornerback with South Carolina’s Jaycee Horn still on the board.
Horn “oozes everything that the Patriots want at cornerback,” says Lazar. “Press man, physical at the line of scrimmage, plays the ball well down the field, has an alpha mentality and wants to take the number one receiver.”
Another idea was to trade back from 15, gain some more draft capital, and have Minnesota wide receiver Rashod Bateman fall to you at a pick in the 20’s. Bateman had a great career at Minnesota, topping over 2,000 total yards and hauling in 19 touchdowns. This is factoring in a shortened 2020 Big Ten season.
Ultimately though, if you don’t take Jaycee Horn here, you won’t find talent like him elsewhere. On top of this, “corner is a much bigger need than people realize” for the Patriots, according to Alex Barth. The guys turned the card in for the plug-and-play cornerback from South Carolina.
THE PICK – Jaycee Horn: Cornerback, University of South Carolina
As the draft moved along, there was a prime opportunity to make a move into the backend of the first round. These bottom of the first round picks end up having great value, as the team can control their rookie contract for five years instead of the normal four-year rookie deal.
*TRADE ALERT* The Patriots Beat guys were able to package the Patriots picks 46, 96, and 122 to move up to pick number 31. They lock it in and look for a tackle as their target.
ROUND 1 – PICK 31
Right away they look to Teven Jenkins, right tackle from Oklahoma State. According to Lazar, Jenkins is a “nasty, mauling, right tackle prospect. Just a hard-nosed, lunch pail type of guy that just put on an absolute show at the Oklahoma State Pro Day.” Jenkins has flexibility to play all over the offensive line, but could play day one on the right side for the Patriots.
They also looked at Dillon Radunz, tackle from North Dakota State. Radunz is more raw than Jenkins, but can solidify the left side of the offensive line. He had a lot of success blocking for Trey Lance in college. Radunz reminds Lazar of Nate Solder: a tall, athletic prospect who can help a run-first team.
The idea of putting Teven Jenkins next to Shaq Mason as a long-term answer for solidifying that side of the line ended up being too good to pass up.
THE PICK: Teven Jenkins – Tackle, Oklahoma State University
Trading into the first round mortgaged the rest of the team’s early picks. The big move up made it so that the Patriots didn’t have another pick until 120. After only grabbing a corner and a tackle and watching impact players fly off the board, the guys decided they needed another playmaker.
*ANOTHER TRADE* The Patriots traded their next three picks, #120, #139, and #177 to move up to pick #85.
ROUND 3 – PICK 85
They didn’t think twice about who to pick. If you’ve been following the Patriots Beat Podcast, you know of Evan Lazar’s infatuation with Amari Rodgers from Clemson. Rodgers was a stud pass catcher with Clemson, catching 77 balls for over 1,000 yards from Trevor Lawrence in 2020. He is a great value at pick #85 and can help the Patriots offense out instantly.
THE PICK: Amari Rodgers – Wide Receiver, Clemson
This second move up produced an even bigger gap in picks, with their next pick now coming until #188. In typical Patriots fashion, Evan and Alex continued moving picks around the board. with our third and fourth *trade alerts* of the day, the Patriots traded pick #188 to the Falcons for a 2022 5th round pick, and pick #197 to the Titans for picks #205 and #232.
ROUND 6 – PICK 205
When they were sitting at pick 197, Barth had his eyes on Penn State center Michal Menet. Menet could give the Patriots a reliable backup at the interior line position. Ted Karras currently the only backup at that spot, and David Andrews will be on the wrong side of age 30 after this contract is up. After they decided to trade down, Menet was still on the board at #205
Another option here was Pooka Williams Jr., a pass-catching running back out of Kansas. This would fill another need the Patriots need, however James White re-signing solidified this for the short term.
Lazar and Barth went to the chat for this pick after debating between Manet and Williams Jr. The center ended up being the over whelming pick.
THE PICK: Michal Menet – Center, Penn State
ROUND 7 – PICK 232
Again as the Patriots would, they traded this pick to an old friend Nick Caserio with the Houston Texans for a 2022 sixth round pick.
ROUND 7 – PICK 242
They also had their eyes on Houston linebacker Grand Stuard while sitting at pick #197. Like Menet, Stuard fell all the way to the Patriots lap at pick 242.
Stuard can be a special teams ace and, although a seventh round pick, can play right away.
THE PICK: Grand Stuard – Linebacker, Houston
Below is the summary of the full Patriots draft:
Here’s the full draft. We went into this one knowing we were sticking at 15, and none of the QBs fell. Cut our losses and took three players we liked in the top 100. #Patriots https://t.co/kGjNTfnH1I pic.twitter.com/o8TuhSygph
— Evan Lazar (@ezlazar) April 1, 2021
At the end of the day, the Patriots ended up trading six picks to get tackle Teven Jenkins and wide receiver Amari Rodgers. After they realized they waited too long to grab a quarterback, they tried to save face by moving up for impact, day one players.
The lesson to be learned here is you can’t get too cute waiting for quarterbacks to fall. You need to be aggressive in order to get a guy that you’re excited about.
Tune in next week to see how things are changed up in Mock Draft 3.0.